# Abstract Reasoning Practice Test Help requestFebruary 18, 2018 7:25 AM   Subscribe

I have to take an Abstract reasoning exam. The organization offers a practice test but no answers on the practice test.

I've uploaded some of the examples to Google photos and would welcome any suggestions.

Once I have some clear understanding of how this testing is done I will feel more comfortable doing the actual test.

p.s. this is relation to testing to go back into the field to help refugees so it is deeply important for me to put my best foot forward.
posted by tarvuz to Education (13 answers total)

Could you elaborate a little more on the mechanics of the test? For instance, In the second photo, The "Neither" appears to belong to the first set (constructed of 6 lines). What are you actually doing when you take the test? Clicking on things, drawing a picture, ...?
posted by dbx at 7:53 AM on February 18, 2018

Hi..sorry for the confusion. I will try again. In each photo there are two sets (A and B). In the middle is the single square containing the "pattern" or "rule".

Using this box you must decide if the rule/pattern in shows matches to every box in either Set A or Set B. If it matched neither than you select "Neither".

In other words does the thing in the middle match the stuff on the left (Set A) or the stuff on the right (Set B). Or none of them. Fuck..I am bad at explaining.
posted by tarvuz at 8:20 AM on February 18, 2018

When I have more time, I'll see if I can solve more of these for you, but the first four answers, with full explanation ROT-13'ed below:

1: Neither.
2: Set A.
3: Set B.
4: Set B.

1,2,3: Frg ba gur yrsg unf fvk "bowrpgf"; frg ba gur evtug unf svir. N gevnatyr pbhagf nf guerr bowrpgf (yvarf); yvarf gung pebff (nf cre nfgrevfx va pvepyr nfgrevfx pvepyr ba gur yrsg frg) ner pbhagrq nf vaqvivqhny yvarf.

3 vf gevpxl, nf gur bowrpg fubhyq or pbhagrq nf svir yvarf (jvgu pebffvat), abg frira jvgu n iregrk.

4: Frg ba gur evtug unf bayl evtug natyrf; frg ba gur yrsg unf nphgr, boghfr, naq evtug natyrf.
posted by cgs06 at 8:42 AM on February 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

Well, it looks like a test of … abstract reasoning. The individual pictures do not mean anything, but the sets all have something in common. The test is in finding out what properties are in common, to discover the “rule,” then classify further based on the rule.

If this is a requirement to go back in the field, I think the biggest part of it is showing that you can not let stress and anxiety override your reasoning brain. If you do not initially see the pattern, slow down and take a second. If the environment is appropriate to do so, say a one-on-one evaluation, talk through the patterns you see in each example, and hopefully the “correct” and “obvious” rule pops out.
posted by jraenar at 8:52 AM on February 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

Here's what I get for the rest of them:

5. B
6. Ambiguous between Neither and B.
7. A
8. A

Mind you, if there's a possible reason to come up with the opposite answer of what the test designers intended, I tend to stumble on to it.

5, 6, 8 Fpnggrerq svtherf bs gur fnzr glcr irefhf svtherf bs gur fnzr glcr tebhcrq.
7 Abg nyy cbvagrq gur fnzr jnl if nyy cbvagrq gur fnzr jnl.

More on 6: Guvf bar vf naablvat gb tvir na haqravnoyl nafjre gb. Nyy svtherf va O unir ng yrnfg n cnve bs yvxr flzobyf. Fb bar zvtug nafjre "arvgure." Ohg fbzr bs gur svtherf unir "tebhcf' bs vaqvivqhny flzobyf vzcyvrf gung n ybar svther pna pbhag nf n tebhc, znxvat nafjre O orpnhfr nyy yvxr flzobyf ner tebhcrq.
posted by Zalzidrax at 9:27 AM on February 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

But yes, I'd also like to agree with jraenar that the best way to do it is ignore the figure in the middle first and try and figure out what each group has in common with itself, but not with the other group, before figuring out where the middle figure goes.
posted by Zalzidrax at 9:28 AM on February 18, 2018

Explaining things to other people requires getting them really clear in your own head, so if you're bad at explaining then that is something you could definitely benefit from more practice at.

For example, I could not make heads or tails of your explanation because the single square in the middle doesn't appear to contain a "pattern" or "rule"; it appears to contain just another drawing, like the groups of six drawings either side of it.

The way I'd interpret those tests is that I'm required to deduce a rule that links all of the pictures in set A, and another that links all of the pictures in set B, then check whether either of those rules also applies to the lone picture in the middle in order to work out which larger set, if any, it belongs with.

The rule that pops out at me for the first test item is that Set A is all about sixness, while Set B is all about fiveness. The picture in Set A with a circle either side of an eight pointed star threw me for a while until I realized that that star consists of four line segments that happen to intersect in the middle, plus the two circles makes six.

Since the lone picture in the middle consists of seven strokes, it doesn't belong in either set.

The next two test items use the same A and B sets, which saves time. In the second item the central picture is made of six strokes, which means it belongs with Set A; the central picture in the third item is made of five strokes, which puts it with Set B.

Don't like the fourth item much. Best I could do is that every picture in Set A contains at least one corner that is not a right angle; Set B is all right angles all the time. So the middle picture belongs with set B. I don't like it because I get vertigo trying to imagine myself small enough to be able to ignore the curvature of the curved sides in order to see whether their corners make right angles or not.

On the fifth item, it looks to me like not only is Set A all made of the same kind of subfigure, but the subfigures are quite widely spread apart; Set B pictures have similar subfigures bunched together, even in those cases where there is only one kind of subfigure. So the central picture belongs with Set B.

Six: I'd be comfortable grouping the central picture with Set B, because even though none of the bunches in it contains more than one subfigure, there are at least multiple kinds of subfigure which rules it out of Set A. But "Neither" would arguably be a reasonable result for this item as well because Set B's pictures do always contain at least one duplicated subfigure, which the central picture doesn't.

The eighth item uses the same Sets A and B, and I'd happily put the central picture with Set A. So if there is an implied requirement for one of each of the three possible results when groups of three test items all use the same Sets A and B, that's more argument for a "Neither" result on the sixth item.

Seven: if you imagine the triangles as arrows, then Set A has them all pointing opposite ways while Set B has them all pointing the same way. So the central picture belongs with Set A.

A test like this is almost completely useless if you get no opportunity to explain the reasoning behind your answers. This is a point almost always lost on the kind of person who likes to build this kind of thing into application processes, so in fact I fully expect you'll get no such opportunity.
posted by flabdablet at 10:04 AM on February 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

By the way, the sixth picture in Set B for the fourth test item looks to me like it's suffered a bit of a mauling at the hands of some low paid intern who didn't really understand that there's not supposed to be a discernible angle between the curved and straight sections of the lemon shape, while being transcribed from what was probably a nice clear hand-drawn original into something like Visio.
posted by flabdablet at 10:12 AM on February 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

If you're looking for more of this kind of puzzle to practise with, they're called Bongard Problems.
posted by flabdablet at 10:22 AM on February 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

Zalzidrax and flabdablet got it. My response for #6 was definitely B... but the ambiguity's there. One of the problems of these kinds of tests is that once the rules become more complex, there can be alternate rulesets/ways of thinking that give you a different answer -- and a dumb/rigid tester can wind up making the test do exactly the opposite of what the test is designed to do.

Practically, the advice I'd have is: if you're stuck, look at similar groupings in A and B and use those to figure out what might be different -- and to test your hypotheses.

In the first group of sets: the six circles (A) vs. five circles (B) and the hexagon (A) vs. pentagon (B) should have narrowed it pretty drastically.

In the second set: the upside-down ice-cream cone (upper right corner A) and the pie slice (middle left B) were the ones that put me on the right track.

In the third group of sets: This one was the toughest, IMO; my instant impression was uniform coloration vs. non-uniform coloration, but the three white balls/two white chevrons/three lollipops in B falsified that. Then it was really asking myself *why* those three didn't belong in A that answered the question (particularly the lollipops in the LR corner B, which suggested the solution to me.)

In the fourth set: The two black triangles in A and B should give you a hypothesis pretty quickly.
posted by cgs06 at 10:51 AM on February 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

Thanks to everyone. It seems so simple when explained. But why the putting of answers into ROT-13? I had never heard of it but seems interesting.
posted by tarvuz at 11:32 PM on February 18, 2018

Practically, the advice I'd have is: if you're stuck, look at similar groupings in A and B and use those to figure out what might be different -- and to test your hypotheses.

Seconded. Completely ignore the central picture until you have worked out a solid pair of rules that disqualify all the Set B pictures from membership in Set A and vice versa.

As originally formulated, Bongard problems didn't have the central picture; it appears to be an added contrivance allowing them to be forced into the same Procrustean bed of multiple choice as the exercises in a typical IQ test (see also: The Tyranny of Metrics).

why the putting of answers into ROT-13?

Protection against spoilers for people who want to solve the puzzles themselves without having first had their eyeballs forcibly dragged over other people's solutions. Arguably more appropriate in the context of a general puzzling discussion than in an AskMe answer.
posted by flabdablet at 11:55 PM on February 18, 2018

It seems so simple when explained.

Many things do.

Given that what you're supposed to do with these tests was obviously not clearly explained to you by the person who gave you the practice questions, the most likely explanation for that is that they don't understand them either.
posted by flabdablet at 12:00 AM on February 19, 2018

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